Philosothon Project Newsletter
Number 11 – February 2020
What might "Love Island" have to do with Philosophy?  Traditionally philosophers have always dealt with tough questions.  From Socrates to Montaigne to Roger Scruton philosophers have been prepared to grapple with the issues that others might have avoided. Incidentally, we cannot allow this newsletter to pass without acknowledging the death of Professor Roger Scruton a week ago. He was the Patron of the UK Philosothon and we mourn his loss with our UK brothers and sisters. Back to "Love Island". This is one of the pieces of stimulus material which will be used in many High School Philosothons this year. The stimulus material does not ask students to watch the TV program, which frankly is rubbish, but many of your students will be familiar with it and it raises important issues about the nature of relationships. What fertile ground for Philosophy. Other topics include Can a robot be conscious? What is civil disobedience? and Is there a right to exclude? What richness there is to explore!
As of 2020 the Australasian Association of Philosophy will be hosting the Australasian Philosothon. The AAP is the peak body in Australasia and is keen to see the Australasian Philosothon develop even further and extend its reach into the future. At this stage twenty schools have accepted the invitation to participate in the 9th Australasian Philosothon at Wesley College in Melbourne Victoria 29th Sept-1st Oct. These schools have been successful in their local Philosothon. For the first time the event will include over 20% of regional schools. This is one of the many benefits of the Templeton Grant that we have been privileged to have awarded. We have recently submitted another grant application for a further three years through the University of Western Australia. Professor Rob Wilson who recently took up a position there as the Chair of Philosophy is keen to see the project grow and flourish into the future.
A couple of recent important developments have been highlighted in this newsletter. The first is a series of online PD seminars we are offering over this semester. The first seminar is simply an"Introduction to Philosothons" and this will be a relaxed journey explaining what a Philosothon to prepare a team...and we will provide each delegate with a suite of resources to use in the classroom and outside the classroom all related to Philosothons. These PDs will be free of charge. Other topics we will cover later in the semester are listed below. Please book in early to avoid disappointment. Book in here.
The other news is the development of purpose built Philosothon software. This will be of interest to those either hosting a Philosothon or those intending to host a Philosothon. Of course, a Philosothon can be run within a school environment rather like an internal debating competition. Tranby College in WA have done this for many years. But normally Philosothons are run between schools, involving between 4 and 34 schools. These can be Primary schools, Middle Schools or Secondary schools.  Universities, schools or other organisations will be interested in this software package. It is available for only $280 and comes with individual and ongoing support in its use. The software provides a format for inviting other nearby schools, entering data in the lead up to the event, scoring procedures during the event, and feedback to schools after the event. We are using the same software at the Australasian Philosothon and have found it worthwhile in streamlining much of the work involved.
Finally, we have two several Philosothons to highlight. Scotch College in Melbourne will be hosting their first Victorian Philosothon on August 6th. Victorian secondary schools eager to participate at a national level might consider entering a team. Please note this involves one student from each year level 8-11 and one reserve. More information can be found below. Also UWA in Perth will be hosting the Perth Philosothon this year and Seymour College will be hosting the 2020 SA Philosothon. St Peters Girls School in Adelaide will be hosting a 'Philosothon meet' for Primary students. 
Have a great year and warm regards
     Matthew Wills
     Project Officer
     The Philosothon Project
                1. Free Professional Development and Resources
                2. New Software available
                3. 2020 Australasian Philosothon
                4. Regional Resources including "Love Island" stimulus
                5. 2020 Victorian Philosothon
                6. Ethics Olympiads
                7. Applications for grants -Now Open
                8. Revised List of Grant Recipients
         We still have grants available for primary and secondary teachers/tertiary lecturers/ Phd Students and Schools.
1. Free Professional Development and Resources

We are currently offering free professional development opportunities throughout 2020. You can register below if you would like to participate in this PD via Zoom. All teaching resources will be available free of charge to those that participate in the PD. This PD will be in real time and can be accessed from any screen throughout the world using freely available Zoom software. Please click on the link below to register. Feel free to sign up by clicking on a topic below. You can register for one session or more.
Speaker- Matthew Wills was the Head of Philosophy, Values and Religion at Hale School in Perth, Western Australia. He has worked in excellent independent schools in NSW, SA and WA. Until 2007 he was the Chief Executive Officer for DAN, a network of over 450 Australasian schools and universities. In 2009 he was awarded the Winston Churchill Fellowship and an Australia Award in 2013 from the federal government for excellence in teaching. He was an executive member of the WA Association of Philosophy in Schools where he completed level 1 and level 2 training in P4C and has been instrumental in the successful introduction and growth of various popular initiatives to promote Philosophy and Ethics for students including Philosothons and Ethics Olympiads. In 2015 he was awarded the Outstanding Professional Service Award from the Professional Teaching Council of Western Australia. In 2017 his application for funding from the Templeton Foundation was successful and he is currently managing the Philosothon Project. He is married with two children.
Topics include:
This session will cater for anyone that would like to find out about how a Philosothon works. Delegates will be provided with some background about the events. We will also focus on the benefits for students participating in the event. There is no onus on participants to sign up for a Philosothon or run one. Delegates will be provided with some tips on how to prepare for a Philosothon, and some resources for teachers wanting to develop students’ philosophical skills and knowledge base. As the person who started Philosothons 10 years ago Mr Wills is well placed to address any questions you might have about Philosothons.
One of the most effective mechanisms for engaging young people in clear and constructive thinking is to start a Philosophy Club in your school. This does not have to be an onerous task for busy teachers. Rather, student led Philosophy Clubs should engage students in the process of skills development and free a teacher to participate when they can. This session will be aimed at people yet to start a Philosophy club at their school and those who already have a Philosophy club at their school and who would like some useful tips and resources going forward.
This session will be useful for any teacher who would like to use their subject content, whichever subject that might be, to develop student skills in critical and collaborate thinking. Teachers will be given tips and resources that can be used in the classroom.
Over recent years Primary School Philosothons have been an effective vehicle for teaching students thinking skills. These events have tended not to emphasize the competitive dimension which is usually a characteristic of Philosothons, but rather the emphasis is on skills development and affirmation of students as they demonstrate skills. This session will outline some of the ways in which Philosothons have been used in the Primary years and provide teachers/parents with resources to use with their children.
One exciting development recently has been the development of software to assist schools in running a Philosothon. This software assists in the process of collating information in the preparation for a Philosothon, it collates and prints the programs needed to run a Philosothon, it collates all the marks and generates useful reports to all stakeholders. This session will be useful to people interested in finding out more about the software and those that have purchased the software who would like some assistance in using it.
- Philosothon Facilitators Training Session- Thursday June 18th 4 - 5 pm EST
It is important that those facilitating a Community Of Inquiry at a Philosothon are familiar with the processes and expectations associated with running a COI with groups of school students. Their role is vital to the success of a Philosothon. This session will provide some practical tips for anyone asked to facilitate a COI. No background in Philosophy for Schools (P4C) is assumed. The
session will provide resources to help you run a COI both in a Philosothon context and in other contexts.
Judging a Philosothon can be a daunting prospect. Without some guidance about the process it is difficult to assess accurately students’ skills within the allotted time frame. This session will provide participants with a breakdown of the marking key and some guidelines about how a Philosothon judge can carefully apply the criteria. We will use the current marking key and apply it to a COI. Judges that are new to Philosothons will be provided with tips about how to apply the marking key.
According to the Australian National Curriculum,  schools are meant to be developing critical thinking skills in students from Reception-Year 12. This session will provide teachers with resources that they can use within any subject.
- An Introduction to the Australasian Philosothon Thursday July 16th
This session is designed to address questions that participating teachers might have in relation to the Australasian Philosothon. The session will go through the current program and recent developments in the program. The session will be particularly useful to schools that are about to participate in their first Australasian Philosothon.


Email if you have any questions.

2. Software available for schools to use.
Over the past few years we have been developing software for school and universities to use while running Philosothons. At this stage the software has been successfully trialled with regional Philosothons and at the Australasian Philosothon. We are now in a position to offer schools the option of purchasing the Philosothon software which will come with PD in how to use it. If you would like to purchase an licence, then click on the link below and fill in your details. We have reduced the price of the licence for schools etc. that are already running Philosothons or schools yet to run their first Philosothon where they are receiving grant support. The software licence will be $280 and this will include two hour long PD sessions and Tech support. We found that this software significantly reduced the admin involved, and provided a forum for communication and reporting. This software will also be useful for organisations already running a Philosothon and schools/universities considering hosting one in the future.
Click here for more information and to order the package

3. 2020 Australasian Philosothon
The 2020 Australasian Philosothon will be held at Wesley College in Melbourne, Victoria. Over three days students will be grappling with big questions. In 2020 the Australasian Association of Philosophy will be hosting the ninth Australasian Philosothon.. The 'Philosophy in the Community' sub- committee of the AAP will be the steering committee for the Australasian Philosothon. The primary objective of the Australasian Philosothon is to promote the uptake of students studying Philosophy in Secondary and Tertiary institutions. The effectiveness of this event in this regard can be highlighted through anecdotal evidence [1]and recent research.[2]
Comments by participating students and schoolteachers from the 2018 & 2019 Australasian Philosothons include:
“This is a very worthwhile event that enables students to demonstrate in deep critical thinking and engage in robust philosophical discussions. This is missing from their lives!”
“An inspiring sense of what young people are capable of when they're given a conducive environment for thinking and discussion.”
“I chose to do Philosothon because I was interested in furthering my knowledge base and understanding of philosophical reasoning, while participating in a fun and diverse social environment. I wanted to further my incomplete philosophy education.”
“The students have been exposed to Philosophical COI that have allowed a deeper level of thinking and philosophical exploration. It has developed confidence and given the girls a sense of success.”
“Students benefited from discussing philosophical issues with a wide range of students from different backgrounds to their own.”


4. The 2020 Regional Philosothon Resources are now available 
The following stimulus materials can be used in 2020 regional Philosothons. Organising teachers are invited to make these resources available to students leading up to the Philosothon. Students who are participating will need to be familiar with the content of these resources at the relevent Philosothon and each student will need to submit four questions which together with the other participant's questions will be the starting point of the discussions at the Philosothon. Please note these resources are available to be used at Philosothons only.
Many thanks to the members of the advisory panel;
Dr Alan Tapper- Curtin University WA
Dr Laura D'Olimpio Birmingham University UK
Dr Karen Bland- La Trobe University Vic
Professor Rob Wilson- University of WA
 1. Can a Robot be Conscious

2.  Love Island and The Ethics of Relationships.

3.  The Right to Exclude

4. What is Civil Disobedience?

5. New Victorian Philosothon- Scotch College will host the 2020 Victorian Philosothon. Qualifying schools will be invited to participate in the Australasian Philosothon.  Contact the Philosothon project manager, Matthew Wills to find out more;
to participate in the
VICTORIAN Philosothon
We welcome teams of 5 students from each school
(one student from each year 8 -11 + one reserve) to participate in Communities of Inquiry
judged by university academics in the field.
Scotch College
Thursday August 6th 2020 (5pm to 9 pm)
 Cost: $50 per student. (This covers registration, prizes & food) No cost for accompanying teachers. More information about Philosothons can be found at
(Please note that there are a maximum number of schools that can be involved so book your school in early)      
Email  if your school would like an informaiton kit.

6.  2020 Senior High School Ethics Olympiads
Ethics Olympiads are being run throughout Australasia and in the US, the Ethics Bowl is held in most US states and Canada. In the UK the John Stuart Mill Cup is held annually at St Andrew's University for high school students. The purpose of the Ethics Olympiad is to assist schools as they help students develop important skills in communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Unlike a debate, students are not assigned a position. Rather they take their own considered position in relation to an ethical question. As a team, students think carefully about their response to the question and collectively present their position. The alternate team can agree with the position taken and they might choose to reinforce the position, offering other arguments that reinforce the argument. Alternatively, a team might take a different position and choose to demonstrate the weaknesses in the alternate view while offering arguments that sustain their own position. It is important that students provide careful sustained reasoning in response to the question. If they disagree with the position taken by the other team, they must always demonstrate respect and civility. In the end all teams are given a mark for the degree of respect and care they demonstrate.
Dates: May 2020
  • Canberra ACT - St Clare's College - Tuesday 5th May
  • Sydney N.S.W - St Andrew's Cathedral School - Wednesday 6th May
         The Sydney Olympiad on the 6th May is Full with 26 teams booked in.
          Sydney schools please consider booking in on Monday 18th May.

  • Melbourne Vic - Siena College -  Friday 8th May
  • Hobart Tas - The Friends School- Saturday 9th May
  • Townsville- Qld - Townsville Grammar School - Wednesday 13th May
  • Brisbane- Qld - Churchie - Friday 15th May
  • Gold Coast Qld The Southport School- Saturday 16th May
  • Sydney N.S.W - Venue to be announced - Monda18th May
  • Auckland-NZ - Mt Albert War Memorial Hall- Wednesday 20th May
  • Wellington-New Zealand - Queen Margaret College - Thursday 21st May
  • Christchurch - New Zealand - Christs College- Saturday 23rd May
  • Perth- WA- Aquinas College - Wednesday 27th May
  • Adelaide- SA- Prince Alfred College - Friday 29th May
Click here for further details and to register your school

7. 2020 Grants Available
We invite you to consider applying for one of the grants listed below. You might wish to take advise from us going forward or we are happy to provide the funding and then watch as you create something unique to your school. These are some of the grants available.
This means we offer funding packages and assistance to establish your school as a hub for the development of critical thinking skills. Philosothons are now a well established mechanism for schools to take seriously this aspect of the curriculum helping their students develop critical thinking skills, collaboration skills and creative reasoning. This initiave is supported by academics throughtout Australia in both the tertiary sector, and the school sector as well as by many that are passionate about this area.

New Regional Philosothons: Subsidies are available for schools to help regional and remote schools cover the costs associated with starting up their own local Philosothon. This will involve other schools in their area. Click here for an application form.

New Philosothons will be supported in cities that do not currently have one, including New Zealand, the Northern Territory, Singapore and Hong Kong. Click here for an application form

Northern Territory Grant applications- These are travel grants to enable teachers to participate in professional development opportunities related to the Philosothon Project. Some priority will be given to indigenous teachers and or teachers of indigenous students. Please fill in the online application form and we will notify you ASAP if your application is successful. Click here to apply.

Travel & Participation subsidies: Subsidies will be provided to assist students/staff who might not otherwise be able to participate in a Philosothon. This might be because they live in remote locations or
because the school is dealing with students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Click here for an application form.

Judges/facilitators subsidy- Money is available to schools to pay judges/facilitators an Honorarium to cover travel costs etc. Click here for an application form

Teacher training subsidy- Money is available to schools to pay judges /facilitators an Honorarium to cover travel costs etc. Click here for an application form

Training for Phd Students: Training and professional development will be organised to allow students to be trained in the Community of Inquiry pedagogy which, in turn, enables them to act as facilitators in Philosothons.
Click here for an application form

Resource development: Teachers and academics will be recruited to consult on and develop age appropriate resources to be used as stimulus material for Philosothons. A website will be developed to house these resources and enable access for all participants. Click here for an application form.

FAPSA is an umbrella organisation which seeks to enrich and expand philosophy education in primary and secondary schools in Australasia. It supports the interests of its nine affiliated Associations through professional development and advocacy initiatives, has an official open access journal, Journal of Philosophy in Schools, and holds a biennial conference.  | Ph: +61 (0)400 029 660 |FAPSA Website:

8. Congratulations to the following grant recipients
There are still more grants available so apply here
Regional Philosothon Grants

Yooie Choi- Kinross Wolaroi School Orange Philosothon NSW

Richard Prideaux- Newhaven College South East Gippsland Philosothon- Phillip Island- Victoria

Mark Bellham - Waikato Diocesan School for Girls- Waikato Philosothon New Zealand

Jane Bennett - St Joseph's College Albany Philosothon Western Australia

Mandi Randell - Central West Leadership Academy NSW

Amanda Kelk- Bundaberg Christian College Qld

Alison Freeman - Geographe Primary School WA

Catherine Boydell - The Armidale School NSW

Michelle Rocca - Mornington Secondary College VIC

Northern Territory Grants

Jane Dwan- Alyangula Area School Groote Island- N.T.

Kaye Liedke- Umbakumba School  Groote Island- N.T.

New Philosothons in cities

David Treanor- Guilford Young College- Tasmania

Mark Foy- Prince Alfred College-Adelaide South Australia

Bill Weigall - Radford College & SOPHY - Australian Capital Territory

Travel Subsidy

Amanda Taylor- Nambucca Heads High School  NSW

Jane Kirkham- Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School WA

Jane Dwan- Alyangula Area School  NT

Andrew Rogers St Marks ACS - WA

Brad Taylor Georgiana Molloy Anglican School  WA

Teacher training Subsidy

Bradley Taylor - Georgiana Molloy Anglican School WA

Sue Lyons - Golden Grove High School SA

Jane Bennett- St Josephs College Albany WA

Elizabeth Myburgh - Young High School NSW

Caroline Thompkin- St Josephs College Albany WA

Rachel Cook - Georgiana Molloy Anglican School WA

Yooie Choi - Kinross Walaroi School NSW

Judges Subsidies

Elizabeth Myburgh- Young High School NSW

Ben Kilby- Moonee Ponds West Primary School VIC

Catherine Boydell The Armidale School NSW

Ines Hipolito- Wollongong University NSW

Youie Choi- Kinross Wolaroi School NSW

Michelle Rocca - Mornington Secondary College VIC

Phd Training Subsidy

Jane Weiling Loo - Sydney University NSW

James McGuire 
Monash University VIC

Antonia Smyth 
- Melbourne University VIC

Timothy Nailer - Adelaide University SA

Richard Phan University of Melbourne  VIC

Carley Tonoli
 - University of Melbourne VIC

Timothy John Neal - Deakin University VIC

Caitlyn Lesiuk - Deakin University VIC
Catherine Anne Brockman Haines NSW

Resource Development Grants

Robert Neurath NSW
         Students benefited from discussing philosophical issues with a wide range of students from different backgrounds to their own.
Anonymous Feedback from 2018 Australasian Philosothon
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Click here for previous newsletters
Over three years  we have grants available for schools and others to set up or participate in Philosothons. Studies have shown that students participating in a philosophical community of inquiry improve on a variety of academic and social measures. If you would like to make this available to your school community click one of the grant links or contact the Philosothon project office.years.
Contact: Project co-ordinator Mr Matthew Wills (e) | Ph: +61 (0)400 029 660 | FAPSA Website: This project was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton Religion Trust.